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8 Ways to Make 2021 a Success

Start the new year strong with these insider tips

Hope Dorman

DECEMBER 16, 2020

The start of January is the perfect time to prepare your business for the coming year. Reflecting on the past year and using those insights to plan ahead can have a big impact on your future success; it gives you a chance to be intentional and proactive about what you want to achieve in the next year. 

With some preparation and a plan, you can hit the ground running and improve your practices to help you achieve your business goals. Looking for some ideas on what to consider with your start-of-year planning? In this guide, pros from the Houzz community reveal their annual business practices that help them kickstart the new year.

Update business technology

Are the workflows and technology you’re using dragging you into the past? Take a look at your existing systems and tools and evaluate if they fall short of your needs or are causing friction among your team. Chances are, there is an alternative process or software that can better help you manage your business. 

Project management software, like Houzz Pro, can help renovation business owners save time and increase revenue. If you’re looking to speed up your sales and estimation or proposal process, consider upgrading to Houzz Pro and incorporating it into your workflow. 

“I'm very picky with what’s best for my company. I'm very picky with software. I'm very picky with who I align with my firm. Houzz Pro has been this beautiful alignment of consistent results, great customer service and honestly great projects for my company. So the relationship with Houzz Pro has been one that has frankly been rewarding from day one.”
-John McClain, John McClain Design

Set your strategy

Identifying the aspects of your business that are bringing in the most money is vital for growth and can help you reallocate resources strategically to optimize your cash flow. Look at your books from the last year and analyze where your money-making opportunities are.

Perhaps you want to focus on different areas within the home, take on projects with a larger scope of work, or work with clients in a new market. Once you determine your strategy for the next year, you’ll be able to determine what steps you may need to take to help you fulfill that strategy. Look into certifications or courses that can designate to homeowners that you’re qualified to take on a certain type of project, or consider bringing on assistance or outsourcing tasks if you are looking to grow.

“We hold an annual planning session with our staff to begin thinking about what initiatives and projects we want to do next year. We discuss what we want to start, stop, and continue, prioritizing the marketing initiatives and types of projects that were most profitable. For us, smaller projects are less efficient than larger projects, so in a slow economy, we might adjust our strategy to include more of those smaller projects. In a good economy, we wouldn’t. Our owner, general manager, and accountant take what they learned from the staff at the planning session and allocate the needed resources in the budget.”
-Laurie Robbins, Potter Construction

Adjust pricing

Do you know the going rate for the services you provide in your area? Before you fill next year’s pipeline, research the standard market pricing, then adjust your rates accordingly so you’re not short-changing yourself. Take a look at your projects in the past year and consider how many you received any push back on pricing. If you received little to no push back, it may be time to raise your rates to capture more revenue.

The beginning of the year is a great time to adjust fees without alarming clients. It’s less arbitrary than raising fees during the middle of the year and you can defend your case by telling potential or repeat clients that you’re bringing one more year of experience, learning and expertise to the table.

With the Houzz Pro estimation software, you’ll get access to a library of pre-loaded data for materials and labor that’s based on zip code, making it easier to ensure your pricing is competitive while still helping you reach revenue targets. 

“I decided I wanted my business to be all about designing and building beautiful landscapes for one homeowner at a time. One week, I got 10 leads and they were closing too quickly. I realized my pricing must have been too low. With the current prices I was quoting I realized I wouldn’t achieve my vision of only doing high-quality, unique projects. So I increased my pricing and started charging more for design work. We now make a significant profit on design as well as construction and construction supervision. Adjusting my pricing increased margins, weeded out less desirable projects, and now allows me to pick and choose the jobs I want.”
-David Hancox, Landscape Oasis

Evaluate professional relationships

Are you working with the best possible subcontractors, suppliers, or professional services? Anyone working on the job site could be a reflection on you and the quality you deliver to clients. Consider whom you interacted with over the past year and, if they aren’t delivering the standard of service you expect, take action to improve or end the relationship.  

If you’re looking for new suppliers to patronize in 2021, check out the Houzz Trade Program to get access to trade discounts and trade-exclusive products on the Houzz marketplace. Go to www.houzz.com/trade-program to learn more. 

“We look at those service providers who we’ve worked with over the past year and do a report card. We give a grade to vendors and subcontractors in all the areas where we build homes. If there are continual performance issues with a company, we’ll find a way to address them or consider replacing them.”
-Aaron Hymas, Vuu Modern Homes

Prospect for new projects

Spark interest in a new project and start the year with new business by reaching out to people already familiar with your work. Ask those who may be in need of additional services if they are interested or ready to take on another phase of their home. For clients whom you know do not need additional services at this time, ask them to refer you to their network and write a review if they have not done so already. 

If you’re looking for an easy way to manage past clients to help drive new business, be sure to implement a CRM, like the Lead Management tool in Houzz Pro. By keeping records of your clients and past jobs, it makes it easy to know when to check in on past clients who may be ready to work on another area of their home.

Review marketing performance

Assessing which marketing channels provided the best return on investment can help you spend more strategically in the new year. Look at which avenues are getting the highest engagement and lead generation, then consider how additional investment could pay off.

Knowing where leads are coming from is vital to any effective marketing strategy. Houzz Pro makes it easy with our message center, which allows you to determine which inquiries called or messaged you from Houzz and logs missed calls so you have a chance to return the call later. In addition, Houzz Pro Ultimate also gives you an analytics dashboard that shows you which photos are getting the highest engagement and a client success manager to guide you through the process.

“We sit down and look at all of the analytics of every marketing method we’re using. Looking at our analytics is extremely important. We look at our website metrics, such as where users are coming from and what are they clicking on. By understanding which pages of our website people are landing on and how long they are staying, and using our Houzz analytics to see which photos they interacted with, we can determine what our users are interested in. With that information, I put together year a plan with the goals for the next year, and select which marketing tools to use to reach those goals.” 
-Kate Bailey, DSIS Construction

Analyze your target market

At the end of the year, reflect on the projects you worked on and see if they align with the type of clients who you want to be working with. Understanding the differences between your actual clients and ideal client will allow you to make changes to your marketing strategy and target the projects that will grow your business in the right direction. 

“Our industry is always changing and we’re in a continual growth state. We ask ourselves, based on the work from the past year, is the profile of our average client changing? We’ve found that markets may be changing as baby boomers start to downsize and we have younger families moving in. We then consider what we can do to best meet our clients’ needs and set a goal for the types of projects we want to take on the next year.”
-Jane Biggeln, Lunada Consulting & Design

Refresh Your Digital Presence 

Prospective clients often associate a frequently refreshed digital presence with pros who are in demand, actively getting new jobs and up to date on the latest trends. Take time at the end of the year to review all areas of your online presence and identify what you accomplished in the past year and what steps you can take to maintain or improve it in the next year. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Update your website and Houzz profile with up-to-date information
  • Schedule photoshoots of completed projects, upload photos you have of existing projects, and get an updated headshot if you need one
  • Plan an editorial calendar to schedule content in advance on your website, Houzz profile, and email
  • Explore video as a marketing method; Houzz Pro members can upload videos to their Houzz profiles

Our business generally slows down during the holidays and it's the perfect time to work on my marketing. I keep up on my SEO by updating my website, tweaking keywords, and updating photos. I update my Houzz profile by uploading photos, adding projects and Ideabooks, working with my Client Success Manager to optimize my page, and participating in discussions.”
-Judith Burzell, Homescapes Home Staging San Diego

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Hope Dorman is a Content Marketing Senior Associate based in Orange County, California. She loves timeless design, creative space solutions, and getting inspiration from Houzz to keep crafting her home.

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